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Entering and Living In The Kingdom of God

June 20, 2021

Teacher: Mike Noel
Scripture: Mark 10:13-31

Introduction:

I have a confession to make: I’ve never been to Disney World! Now I’m not against going there, it's just one of many places I haven’t been to.  

It's known as the "Magic Kingdom" and from all accounts, it is a cool place to go. 

And it’s actually a very easy kingdom to get into. You don’t have to qualify, or earn your way into it; don’t have to get a special passport to go there. All you need to do to get into it is buy tickets. You can buy your way into this kingdom. 

What we encounter in our text today is a different type of kingdom; it’s the kingdom of God.  

The prophet Daniel spoke of this kingdom 600 years before Christ. He said 

the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever Daniel 2:44

Peter describes it as the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

And as we will see you can’t earn your way into this kingdom and you can’t buy your way into this kingdom but paradoxically to enter it will cost you everything you own.

Now you may or may not have been to Disney World. And if you haven’t no big deal. But you do not want to miss out on entering the kingdom of God. For the greatest thing or the worst thing that could ever happen to you… 

In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. 29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. Luke 13:28

There is much to say about the kingdom of God. It’s mentioned 14 times in the book of Mark and 86 times in the 4 gospels. But what we want to cover today is what our text has to say about it, which is how does one enter the kingdom of God. This is the question that the rich young ruler came to Jesus with. It is the question that should be on every person’s heart and mind. Both for the non-Christian but also for the Christian, that is the person who has already entered the kingdom.

Because how one enters the kingdom informs us of how we should live in the kingdom. And if you’ve entered the kingdom you care about how you live in the kingdom. It’s actually evidence that you’re in the kingdom.  And what we find in Mark 10 is that the way that we enter and live in the kingdom is through the gospel of grace. Let’s pray - to be kingdom people. 

 

B. We Enter The Kingdom As Children: (By Faith Alone): (We Enter The Kingdom By Surrendering All/We Enter The Kingdom By Grace Alone)  

Three Points About Entering and Living In The Kingdom

Often in the gospels we see a contrast between Jesus (his actions and attitudes) with those of his disciples. We find this in verse 13 of our text: And they were bringing children to him, that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 

The disciples may have meant well but they were in opposition to what Jesus wanted, for in the next verse we find out that he was indignant (strong disapproval concerning unjust ) about what they had done. Maybe the disciples thought it was inappropriate for a Jewish teacher or rabbi to be hugging babies and putting his hands on the young children in order to bless them. Or maybe they thought he had more important things to do in his proclamation of the coming kingdom. But for Jesus the heart of his kingdom had to do with children. 

This is a reflection of Scripture which assigns a special place to children. We see this in both a positive and negative way in Matthew 18. 

 

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, Matthew 18:5a

 

Not whoever receives the President of the country or this Olympic athlete but whoever receives a child.   

See this kingdom is an “upside down” kingdom.When you compare it to The kingdom or culture of this present world loves celebrities, important people, really smart, successful people.  Impressive people. 

But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18:5b

Pretty graphic; 3300 lbs; Don’t mess with children. 

Children are to be valued, to be cherished and loved, to be protected;  (inside and outside the womb) they are a gift from God. 

Psalm 127 tells us: Behold, children are a gift (heritage) of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.  

In verse 14 of our text Jesus states that the kingdom belongs to children and that we must receive the kingdom as a child in order to enter the kingdom. 

Scripture points to certain traits that children exhibit and encourages us to emulate them.  

This does not mean that we shouldn’t seek to grow wise and discerning or that we should stay simple as children. I Cor 14: 20 Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.  I Corinthians 13 tells us that part of growing up has to do with giving up cways.   

 Also this doesn’t mean that children aren’t sinful. They are; they’re little sinners who are cute and corrupt. Babies politely ask for things don’t they? In Ps 51 David tells us Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.      Psalm 51:5

We are born sinful and therefore babies and young children are sinful... 

However in general there are certain behaviors that children display that we should cultivate, those that reveal what the kingdom is like, and how we enter and live in it. 

So what is it in children that we should imitate? I think it’s their demeanor. Let me share two areas where I think we are called to imitate the attitudes of children. 

The first area has to do with the fact that they are totally dependent on their parents and other adults. And children fully trust and rely on their parents.    

Think about a four year old little girl who goes along with her dad to run errands. Maybe they stop at Lowes or Home Depot. She is tagging along, enjoying some daddy time. Or maybe they go to her father’s office. It’s in a big office building downtown on the 5th floor. And while her dad is getting a few things in his office she wanders out in the hallway and a security guard sees her and asks what she’s doing out there. How did she get in here?  

Her response would be that she is there with her dad. Maybe it’s a very prestigious office complex. She didn’t earn her way in. She didn’t go four or six years to college and then earned a job or spent years out on the road working her way up to qualify to get into this company and their headquarters. She  came in there based on being with and trusting her father. 

 Earning her way into that office is so far from her ability it didn’t even occur to her as a reason.   

 We enter the kingdom and live in the kingdom by faith alone. We approach the King with empty hands. Nothing in my hands I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling; And o what a joy that ought to be whether you are a new believer or someone who has walked with God for sometime. 

Because we never have to think, “am I good enough?” Have I done enough? Even as we grow in the Lord we still approach him the same way. With empty hands, clinging to our Savior.  

If you are not a Christian today you can become a child of God by faith alone. There is nothing good in you that would make you acceptable to God. In fact your sin makes you an enemy of a holy God. But you can become blameless and acceptable to God  the Father by putting your trust in Jesus as your Savior and Lord. It’s a free gift that he offers you; eternal life, forgiveness of sins based on the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Scripture tells us that everyone who  calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.  

 In some ways we are all like the four year old. We need to be with our Abba Father (our dear Father). We need to draw near to him and be with him and experience his love. Look at verse 13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them..And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. We have a God who loves to touch us, to show affection to us.

And this is not just for earthly children; it is for all of God’s spiritual children. Look throughout scripture and you see a loving Father God. We see it in the story of the father of the prodigal son. When the prodigal son was returning...“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 

Or this description of John the apostle and Jesus: 

One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus' side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. (So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus,said to him, “Lord, who is it?” John 13:23-25

 Divine love. We have a God who loves us and is affectionate towards us. And because we approach him by faith alone we can always have confidence to run to him, to draw near to him and receive his love. If you want to grow in your experience of the love of God then grow in your knowledge and love of the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Study it, renew your mind with it, let it shape how you think about God especially how he views you in Christ 

For the Christian this truth that we are accepted by God thru his son’s work on the cross alone is the one great reality of life. It is the foundation, the cornerstone that we stand on and live on and build our lives on. And it is the great silencer! It silences all the condemning voices of sin and guilt and shame. 

What do children do when they are upset. They run to their parents and climb up in their lap and there everything is right with the world.

And that’s how it should be with us that in the midst of living in a fallen world we know stability and joy because of our Father’s strong and loving embrace.  

The second area that a child often displays that we should emulate is humility and lack of pretense. Children generally aren’t impressed with themselves because they haven’t really done much in their lives. 

Throughout the gospels the disciples were always getting into arguments of who was the greatest: 

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.     Matthew 18: 2-4

Coming to Christ requires humility - because it requires the realization that we are but sinners before a holy God. I recently heard Marvin Olasky’s testimony of becoming a Christian. He’s the editor in chief for World Magazine. In college he was a communist and he wasn’t just dabbling in it, he was all in. He was an out and out Marxist.

But then God began to work in his life and wonderfully, powerfully saved him over the course of 3 years. And think about it, when he finally came to Christ this took much humility to go from a proud, arrogant, puffed up, sophisticated college student who thought he knew the answers to life to one who simply bows his knee to Jesus and said you are Lord. There is a child-like quality of humility that is required to enter the kingdom and to live in it.

And beloved, one of the great enemies of our faith is the opposite of this which is pride. We all battle against it. We must embrace the lifestyle of pursuing humility. How does one eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How does one grow in humility, one day at a time. And this sin, this sin of pride is not a sin just for the young but for the older saint and all in between. 

In reading about the kings of Israel it is always sobering that even those who were godly most of their lives and thru whom God did great things often in their later days they succumbed to this sin of pride in very grievous God dishonoring ways. Hezekiah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Uzziah, Josiah.

In pride they assumed upon God; they thought they were someone; Gal 6: For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 

May God help us to live as a humble people. Martin Luther’s last words were “we are all beggars”. May we be as the tax collector in Luke 18 who said God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ There is a difference between forgiven sinners. He has not dealt. Inform us 

C. We Enter The Kingdom By Surrendering All 

 So our second point involves the rich young ruler. Now from our text we don’t really know that he is a ruler or young but other gospel passages of the same account let us know that. What we do know is that he appears to be a very earnest, sincere man who comes up to Jesus and asks, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit the kingdom of God?”.

So the rich young ruler’s question seems to be the same as what Jesus was addressing in our first point, how does one enter or inherit or obtain entrance into the kingdom of God. 

And Jesus answers him in a different way than what he seems to be stressing in our first point. The clear teaching of scripture throughout both the gospels and the epistles is that the biblical response to the gospel message is repentance and faith. 

And it seems that the way that God works in our lives (that is what salvation is/we do respond) in our individual lives is a little different for each one of us who comes to faith. And it may appear that he stresses one of these two components (r/f) at least at face value. 

A person may come to the Lord because on hearing the gospel, the truth of being guilty before God really resonates within them and they run to the cross and cling to it. Another person may really be convicted of their rebellion against God and their need to repent and surrender and change their ways  and this seems to be what Jesus was putting his finger on in the life of the rich young ruler.

But however the Holy Spirit works in one’s life,  if there is a true conversion to Christ both repentance and faith are to be evident. I heard it expressed this way recently: Saving faith always leads to repentance and repentance always springs from saving faith. You can’t have one without the other.

Now this young man probably grew up in a good Jewish home and heard the Torah read to him as a child. He seemed to be sincere and wanting to know what was it that enabled a person to enter the kingdom besides obeying the commandments. He seemed to understand there was more to it than obedience for he came and asked Jesus about this matter. He sincerely tells our Lord that he has kept all the commandments since his youth. And maybe he did outwardly. 

But Jesus is interested in more than just outward behavior. He is at work in our hearts and minds, for this is where faith and repentance take place.

In v21 we learn that Jesus looked at him, loved him, and said to him,  “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”  

That was not what this rich young ruler wanted to hear for he went away sorrowful (because he had great possessions/owned much property). 

Whether you have grown up in a Christian home or you were raised in a very secular setting when you are confronted with the gospel message it comes with a price tag - your very life! All of it!  You must surrender all to Jesus. Jesus was never shy about his claim on the lives of those who would be his disciples and neither should we when sharing with others his saving message:

So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:33 

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Matthew 10: 37-38

The kingdom of God is where Christ rules as King. 

But in our sinfulness we can want to be a follower of the Christ and yet hold onto our lives. However Jesus takes no prisoners.  

Picture two generals negotiating a surrender… Total Surrender (nothing is taken off the table) !

You can’t earn your way into the eternal kingdom of God through changing and surrendering your life but the clear work of the Spirit in the life of one who is entering the kingdom is the work of repentance and surrender to God. 

How does surrender work out practically in our lives? How can we know that we’ve surrendered? Here are three ways to measure our surrender.

First have we surrendered to the Word of God? When you come to read and study Scripture do you have the attitude that you are putting yourself under its authority? Or are you trying to dodge the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.  

God’s word does many things in our lives. It strengthens us, encourages us, informs us, refreshes us but it also is to correct and reprove us. We should be a little bloodied when we read the Bible.

Our surrender to God is not seamless, it's not perfect. And just as Paul tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling so we work out our surrender to God in the same way. That happens as we embrace Scripture as the rule of life and as the Spirit brings it to bear in our everyday life. You may have genuinely... 

Is there joy in our surrender? 

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine  it.pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought Matthew 13:44-46

My testimony. 

Third have we surrendered all our plans to Jesus. Yes he calls us to surrender all our finances, all our wealth, our assets to him (danger of wealth). But surrender pertains to all things (our reputation, our vocation, our future plans, what we view and watch, all things) Nothing is to be out of his reach. And surrender involves our plans. 

 Jesus said, in v29,   “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 

A willingness to leave all for Christ: Church Plant; Small Group; Sam Taylor 

D. We Enter The Kingdom By Grace Alone: 

For anyone who is struggling today with the issue of surrender - whether it’s surrendering all to come to Christ or for those who are Christians, struggling with living an ongoing surrendered life, I have good news. We read it in verses 26 and 27:  

It’s the good news of Gods grace. I want to boast today...

And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.

This is a description of amazing grace. That is that by his power God brings about what only he can do. 

At the end of the day it’s God’s grace that brings us into the kingdom and sustains in the kingdom. Does that mean we do nothing? No on the contrary we avail ourselves to the sources of his grace. Let me discuss some ways that his grace works in our lives regardless of where you are at today. 

If you are here today and you're not a Christian you need to be born again or born anew.  We must be regenerated by the Holy Spirit to enter the kingdom of God.  Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:

 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. John 3: 5

Regeneration, being born again of the Spirit is a mysterious act. Nicodemus’ response is somewhat understandable; how can one be born a second time? You cannot cause yourself to be born again. But you can respond to the preaching of the gospel and the work of grace in your life.

So today if you are at a place where you want to put your trust in Christ and follow him in a surrendered life then do so believing that he will empower you to do that.  Put your confidence in him: In some ways faith is saying to God: it’s on you Lord. That is, I’m willing but I need your power, your transformation, your Spirit, your Son to help me follow you and love you And I am trusting you to do so. If this morning you are in that place I encourage you to come up after the sermon and pray with the prayer team. 

There also may be those who are here this morning and you’ve heard the call of the gospel, you know it to be true but you also are aware that you can’t will yourself to do these things. You feel like your heart is somewhat hardened to these things. If that is you remember, With God all things are possible. Allow his grace to be at work within you.

Call out to God to save you, to change you, to give you a new heart and life. This is part of saving faith, realizing that you can’t save yourself. You need a Savior.

Call out to him now. Look to Christ and be saved. Faith is not passive, it’s active. He loves honest engagement. My own prayer. 

And avail yourself of the habits of grace which includes reading and hearing the word of God. It may be painful as you read it but keep reading it, keep listening to the word being preached, keep allowing it to inform your mind, and penetrate your heart. 

Be with God’s people and allow Chrisian fellowship to be a source of grace to you.   

Above all put your faith in God. Faith that he will meet you and change you and bring you into his kingdom. Eph 2 tells us 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift   of God Ephesians 2:8

 If you are a Christian and struggle with living a surrendered life (which in some ways is all of us) we too can put our trust in God’s active grace, his working in our lives to help us grow to be more like his Son. In closing let me share a few thoughts that I hope will be helpful. 

In Matthew 11 Jesus declared,

 “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children…Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:25, 28-30

A surrendered life is not necessarily a hard life. There is a yoke in the Christian life. There is a call to come and follow Jesus and to walk with him but in surrender you find peace and rest. When we surrender to the Lord it involves surrendering to his will and his control and also his power and wonderful promises for our good. It’s on you Lord, I surrender but I need your power. 

Paul said I worked harder than any of them though it was not I but the grace of God that is with me. Even in our working hard which is required in the Christian life we should do so with a reliance on God’s grace and power.  

 In Matthew 6 Jesus “encourages” us by saying 

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

But it’s actually a very accurate and helpful description of living in a fallen world. We should plan; planning is good. But we should also learn to live one day at a time. His grace comes to us one day at a time. Actively trust in it 

Don’t worry about all the things that await us tomorrow, all the temptations and pressures and responsibilities. Learn to draw near to God, surrender to him daily, put your trust in him daily, call upon him daily for all that is needed that day. Put your trust in his saving and sustaining grace. Amen  

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